Temple held its sixth spring practice session Thursday at Edberg-Olson Hall. Owls defensive line coach Jim Panagos spoke to reporters following the conclusion of practice.
Panagos served as a defensive analyst for Pittsburgh last season. Before working with Pat Narduzzi and the Panthers, he was the defensive line coach at Rutgers and recruited Temple defensive linemen Michael Dogbe and Greg Webb, who was verbally committed to the Scarlet Knights before flipping to the Owls during an official visit.
“The transition has been tremendous,” Panagos said after practice. “As soon as I got this job, I had seven players call me within five minutes.
“Right away I knew this was the right place for me,” Panagos added. “This was the right place for my family. And this is awesome for me to be here.”
When asked about specific players along the defensive line who have stood out, Panagos named off redshirt freshman Quincy Roche and redshirt sophomore Dana Levine. The Owls’ first-year defensive line coach said he is not concerned with the depth chart, which was the same tune from head coach Geoff Collins during Saturday’s media availability.
“After 15 days of spring practice, I’ll reevaluate (where each players stands),” Panagos said. “But right now I’m focused on who’s playing well every day.”
As Collins said this past Saturday, Panagos reiterated that the new Temple staff does not use depth charts.
The Temple coaching has limited the reps for fifth-year senior defensive end Sharif Finch, who missed the final 10 games of last season due to chronic knee issues.
“Honestly, I’ve been fine,” Finch said. “It was up to coach for some of the older guys not to practice as much and the younger guys get some extra reps.”
Finch, the NCAA’s active leader in blocked punts, said his knee feels “great.”
Finch also pointed out that practices under Collins have been faster in pace.
“We get our conditioning done during practice,” Finch said. “Just running from station to station and little things like that. It’s a lot different, though. It’s a lot more juice on the sideline.”
Senior defensive lineman Jacob Martin, who broke his left foot during warm ups prior to the American Athletic Championship game against Navy, has also been limited through the early parts of spring practice.
“I’m running just about full speed,” Martin said. “Just trying to get better every day. My legs are strong, as they were before I left.”
Martin said he is “about or around 100 percent” as he continues to receive physical therapy on his left foot.
Under former defensive coordinator Phil Snow, Martin was used as a situational interior pass rusher and saw time at defensive tackle. The Aurora, Co. native said he is comfortable pass rushing from the inside and outside.
Sophomore cornerback Linwood Crump went step for step with redshirt junior wide receiver Ventell Bryant and forced an incompletion in the left corner of the end zone. Crump was later beat down the field by senior wide receiver Adonis Jennings, who went over Crump’s head and grabbed a touchdown reception.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Russo, who received some first team reps in the portion of practice open to reporters, threw an interception. Sophomore linebacker Sam Franklin picked off Russo’s pass from the ground and tipped the ball with his foot, then right into his hands.
Former Temple wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson attended Thursday’s spring practice. Jackson was originally retained by Collins but ultimately left shortly before National Signing Day to become the receivers coach with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. The former Cleveland Browns wide receiver had a conversation with new Temple receivers coach Stan Hixon after practice.
Anthony Marrone, a class of 2018 offensive lineman from Chestnut Hill (Pa.) Academy, attended Temple’s spring practice Thursday.